Volume 3  |  January 2019


Volume 3  |  January 2019

Imagery and the Art of Interior Design

A Q&A with MaryLou Parham

Director of Interior Design

Q: What is your approach to the design of Senior Living and Care Communities?

A: Interior design is about the messages that we send through design imagery. Each space has its unique purpose and function. The visual aesthetic and the image that we create is an overlay to the function of the space, and that’s the real art of interior design. We have to keep in mind that each new generation of Americans comes to senior living with a new and changing set of values, desires and preferences for their lifestyle and their homes. Great design accommodates and celebrates these preferences while keeping the interior spaces flexible and easily adaptable. Responsive design embraces this idea. The hospitality industry and a more contemporary aesthetic drive the character of our designs today.

Q: What are the major design influences shaping your work today?

A: Responsive senior environments today are very different than the senior community of ten years ago. Consumers are more discerning than ever before, they want a fresh and invigorating design that incorporates health spas, healthy food venues, spaces for a wider range of fitness, entertainment, social options, and meaningful outdoor spaces. The style, image and quality of the environment is more important than ever before.  Residents are looking for a design that is “Ageless” and incorporates the best from the non-senior society at large.

Q: Sounds great but how do you achieve this?

A: We team with the Architect, Owners, Operators and the Contractors so that we all clearly understand the purpose of the spaces, along with the uses and behaviors that are intended for each space. The process is then a multi-faceted creative effort involving the artistic use of details, materials, finishes, furnishings and lighting to create the image.Throughout the design process we also keep a close control of the pragmatic issues of constructability, durability, cost and schedule.

Q: How does your work in Senior Living differ from non-age oriented design?

A: As I mentioned earlier, from a “design aesthetic” there really is no difference. If we listen to our residents and families, the senior industry should promote “agelessness”, inclusion, community membership and normalcy. Our work responds directly to these values. Along with this, we utilize the power of Interior Design to help residents compensate for the physical losses that they experience as a result of natural aging. This “tactile” approach includes everything from optimizing lighting, to furniture, fixtures, colors and contrasts that help residents negotiate and self-accomplish within their environment. This is especially important in care levels of the senior industry.

Our approach to Interior Design has allowed us to provide some of the more responsive and compelling building interiors in the senior market.This is a consumer-driven industry and the senior consumer has become increasingly clear about their expectations and more demanding about their environments. I am excited for the future of senior living and how we can continue to be a part of its evolution.

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